By Bryan Baier
Looking for great local music? Niigata’s growing music scene will satisfy. It can be taken in at a growing number of venues, but one of the longest running and most popular is the Gioiamia Open Mic. The waiting list of performers both native and foreign has this first-Monday-of-the-month event running later and later each time (from 8pm till 1:30am in May).
Gioiamia reminds this author greatly of old New York City Italian-American open floor bar and café restaurants. The awnings arching over the entrances and wrapping around the length of the building, French doors and candelabra-like lights by the doors and on the window pillars outside, and the arch and pillar architecture, floor-to-ceiling windows, wooden floors, bar and distinctly western decor inside reinforce that feeling.
Gioiamia is open for special events and by reservation only so it’s menu is always different. All drinks on the night of the Open Mic are ¥500, and food items range from ¥500 to ¥1,000-¥1,500 depending on what’s available. The pizza never goes away, however. It’s made with fresh vegetables, homemade sauce and is some of the best pizza in Niigata, a bargain feed at ¥1,000.Gioiamia’s Open Mic owes its popularity to its being open to anybody, even you. Just learned your first song (or a new song) on the guitar or piano? Brushed up your singing skills at karaoke? Memorized or written a poem of your own? Experience not necessary, Gioiamia wants to let you have the stage! The open and friendly nature of the venue and the event often leads to some truly spectacular shows. That all the artists performing at Gioiamia use the same seating and dining area as the audience gives fans, newly-forged and long-devoted, a chance to meet and personally show their appreciation to their favorite artists.
Gioiamia is located in downtown Niigata’s Furumachi district. A ~¥250 bus ride from Niigata Station’s Bandai Exit to Furumachi or a 20 or so minute walk from the same exit. Cross the Bandai Bridge and turn right at the post office. Local groups and soloists get out to various events all month long, but the Gioiamia Open Mic offers the greatest variety and quality. Looking for local music? Happy travels!
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Seven years of exploring and playing in the wilds of Japan! Now I'm JapanTravel's Tourism and PR Ambassador in Nara Prefecture and the Regional Partner for Nara Prefecture. It's been my experience that there's little if any awareness of Nara and its importance outside of Japan. My goal: remedy that